a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021


Jeff Bostwick
Recruiting and Retention Chair

Adapting to Change

If you are like me, you might be exhausted with all the new normals we have confronted in the last year. With the upheaval of 2020-2021, you might be craving constancy, not change. So if adapting to change is not the most welcome message, I understand. Yet, the opportunity to pivot might be a game-changer for commissioner recruiting in two ways:

1. A fresh look: For years, commissioner recruiting has been a group exercise. Groups of volunteers gather to examine numerous council rosters and speculate about which people on the lists might be good candidates for commissioner service. A final list of candidates is created, and someone is assigned to contact the would-be commissioners. From that list, we hope to get one or two new volunteers.

Similarly, we have often recruited commissioners from the same demographic. Sadly, this demographic isn’t always aligned with the communities they are expected to serve.

Maybe we could ride the waves of change and take a fresh look at commissioner recruiting. Maybe commissioner recruiting is best done by every commissioner taking individual responsibility to ask their friends to join our ranks. Maybe our commissioners need to be younger, more diverse, and more inclusive. Maybe the time is right to change how and who we recruit as commissioners.

2. A serious evaluation: The data tells us our commissioner corps has been declining for years. We don’t have enough unit commissioners to serve our units. We need to accept that whatever we have been doing has not yielded enough commissioners to effectively serve units. So why not change how we recruit? Instead of recruiting from the same pools of Scouters who rotate through assignments in a kind-of BSA musical chairs, why not ask people who are not registered volunteers to become commissioners? Think about all the people of good character you know from work, church, school, or family activities. These are people who, like you, are committed to improving our children’s lives and character. We can train them. Maybe the time is right to change where we find commissioners.

In the past year, we have changed the way we pursue our lives, including our BSA service. We have changed the way Scouts and Scouters meet. We have changed the way Scouts advance. We have changed who can become Scouts. These changes have refreshed and reinvigorated the BSA. It has made our movement more compassionate, more accessible, and more fun. Our ability to adapt to change gives us an opportunity at a fresh start. Maybe the time is right to change commissioner recruiting.

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